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In this early work by Bellini, Christ is shown as the Redeemer. The panel may have served as the door of a tabernacle, in which the wine and bread of the Mass were kept.

Christ is shown after the Crucifixion, as the Man of Sorrows, whose blood saves the world from sin. He holds his cross, with the crown of thorns. An angel catches his blood in a chalice like the ones used in the Mass.

The parapet reliefs illustrating antique and pagan rituals may have a significance for the meaning of the painting, but no convincing theory about this has yet been advanced. Before cleaning in 1978 there was an unbroken tiled floor, including some oil-paint over Bellini's original egg tempera. Cleaning removed these additions.

The bare patches of gesso, or ground, were originally painted as clouds with red and blue angels with much gold. We do not know why or when the angels were removed, but it was certainly done after Bellini finished the work.

Details

  • Title: The Blood of the Redeemer
  • Creator: Giovanni Bellini
  • Date Created: about 1465
  • Physical Dimensions: 47.6 × 35.2 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Egg tempera on panel
  • School: ITalian (Venetian)
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG1233
  • Artist Dates: active about 1459; died 1516
  • Artist Biography: Giovanni Bellini was born into the leading dynasty of Venetian painters. He seems to have been the younger brother of Gentile Bellini. His development was first shaped by his father, Jacopo. His brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna also influenced early works, such as 'The Blood of the Redeemer' and 'The Agony in the Garden'. The visit of Antonello da Messina to Venice in 1475-6 may also have influenced him. Many signed paintings survive, as well as a number of workshop productions, including works on this screen. 'The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr' is now thought to be by him rather than by his workshop. In his old age Bellini executed a few secular narrative paintings, of which the greatest is 'The Feast of the Gods', later modified by Titian.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1887

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